I come from a railway family and within three weeks of being born I was going around the network with my dad in my little carrycot. My dad used to be a guard and then he was a driver, so I was kind of brought up on the railways.
When we were kids living in Bristol, if we wanted to see something different we’d go somewhere like Birmingham New Street. That was the place to be on a Saturday.
You’d see all the electric trains up from Euston going to Manchester, Liverpool and Preston. And you’d see the cross-country trains. There are a couple of sidings in the middle of the platforms and back in the day they used to be lined up with locomotives waiting to go on their respective trains. It was very, very busy.
We also used to go up to Scotland to see my step-granny. When we got to Glasgow and saw the orange trains it was like a totally different world. Especially that Clockwork Orange [the Glasgow underground]. I went on it a few times and it just did my nut in.
We couldn’t live without the railways in this country. People don’t see it as a luxury any more – they just see it as something that gets you from A to B. That does bug me a little bit. But, to be fair, look at the state of the trains. They all look exactly the same now. There’s no character to them. They’ve all got a sloping front. They’ve all got sliding doors and they all talk to you!
But back in the day it was a real luxury. You’d have a meal and see the Cornish Riviera or go on the Flying Scotsman. Nowadays people just get on, sit down and read their paper. They don’t take any interest in what’s outside the window or what they’re travelling on. Like my brother says, it’s not just about the train.